Natural versus Organic: A Basic Breakdown

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Confused about the differences between food that's labeled organic and food that's labeled natural? Read on for some healthy enlightenment.

Organic

The word organic refers to farming methods used to grow and process our food and fiber supply without the use of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, additives, hormones or irradiation. Organic food is minimally processed so fewer nutrients are lost, so food maintains its wholesome value. Also, organic food isn't genetically altered.

In 2002, USDA established national criteria for food labeled organic called the National Organics Program (NOP). These criteria ensure that the organic food you're buying upholds the highest standards for production and handling.

Natural

Natural refers to the ingredients used in the products. Presently, there's no legal definition for natural products in the U.S. with the exception of fresh produce, dairy and meat.

Because you can't guarantee that the products you're shopping for are natural, read labels to ensure they are made from 100 percent natural, read labels to ensure they are made from 100 percent natural ingredients and aren't chemically processed. They should be preservative, additive and trans-fate free and they shouldn't contain animal byproducts, artificial colors or flavors, hydrogenated  oils or fillers.

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